Using strobes in broad daylight

Albert PedrosaAlbert Pedrosa
Photo mania

“WHY would you use strobe lights in a well-lighted environment?” I normally get this question when shooting outdoors. As if the sun is not bright enough to light the scene.

When I started shooting in studio, the objective is all about perfection. In a controlled environment, you get to control all the light that you see in the frame. The idea is to realize your imagination through your photos.

I use strobes as additional light while using the sun as one of my lights. When composing your shot, you find the right elements to fill in your frame and sometimes available light is not angled to use as main light. If this is the case, you can use your available light as your backlight or fill light adding artificial light as your main.

Gerard and Ann Parenup. Strobe camera right. ISO 1600, f1.8, 1/125 sec.
Gerard and Ann Parenup. Strobe camera right. ISO 1600, f1.8, 1/125 sec.

Sounds great yes? It does. It gives you more options without worrying where the available light is coming from. All you have to do is fill in light where it’s missing. However, this technique requires a lot of experience.

Combining your strobes which is controlled by aperture and ISO only with ambient light that is affected with shutter, aperture and ISO is going to be confusing. If it’s not confusing enough, strobes cannot be controlled by shutter speed and works only below 1/200 shutter speed.

Shooting under 1/200 can give you problems with over-exposure especially if you are trying to shoot at wide open apertures to blur the background.

Maybe a high-speed sync feature that allows you to shoot higher shutter speeds in your strobe will extend a hand but not without any additional cost on the price tag. A good ND filter will remedy the problem with less cost.

Another reason I use additional light aside from ambient is to define the direction of the light. Finding the shadows where you want them to be will give you dimension. It makes the image look more three dimensional. If you’re a classic shooter, then this is a must. When working with shadows, it highlights the best features of a face and hides the less impressive ones.

Bringing your strobe outdoors require additional manpower in the set and mobilization woes. It requires additional time to setup. If you’re willing to sacrifice all that just to get the perfect shot, then go ahead and enjoy the fruits of your work.

With all respect to those who can shoot with just plain available light, I think that it’s a matter of taste. Different strokes for different folks. It doesn’t make it easier shooting minus strobes. Making it work with and finding creative ways to work on fixed and given light takes a lot of courage and artistic skills to pull off.

Keep on shooting, everyone!

photomania.sunstar@gmail.com / www.grp.ph

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